A reader found the first part of our Super Matchy Super Clashy series on siblings with shared initials when searching for help with her real-life dilemma: her sons’ names ended up being more matchy than she had planned. She left a comment asking for help and I felt her story would be interesting to share.
I found your article because I’m going through this exact problem. My first-born son’s name is Declan and we agonized over number two’s name. We knew we were having a boy and I had a list of lovely names that my husband didn’t like. The week before he was due Donovan resurfaced as a name he liked and when we left the hospital that was our chosen name however I honestly had never thought about what it would sound like with Declan and then hated that they had the same initials and sounded so matchy. I hadn’t ever thought through the sibling set names. Donovan is three months old and I’m still trying to convince my husband to change it! I love the name by itself but not with Declan!
Here was my response:
I know what it’s like to have these great names and not have them appreciated by the husband. Under those circumstances I can see how coordinating sibling names could get overlooked. In this situation, finding a name you both like is a huge step, and everything else seems secondary. Your story is a great example of how super matchy names aren’t always the result of parents trying to be cute, but rather they are often unintentional.
Unintentional matchy-ness is more likely than some may think because people tend to like similar sounds. For example, my daughter is Fiona, and some of my other top 5/top 10 girl names include Ione and Viola. Notice the repeating io. Notice how Fiona and Viola share all the same vowels in all the same places and have the same number of letters.
If you are planning on having more children, perhaps you could mention to your husband that you have sort of painted yourself in a corner. For example, if you had a third boy, Declan, Donovan, and Duncan seems a bit gimmicky.
From what I gather, it sounds as though your husband can’t imagine your son by any name other than Donovan. This is tough. I understand the pressure to want to change your son’s name sooner than later, but I also realize you need to have your husband on board.
Perhaps you could start calling your son by a different name paired with Donovan before officially changing it, and see if it sticks. For example, you could start calling him Seamus Donovan, in the hope that your husband could get used to that and then you could drop the Donovan or perhaps keep it as a middle name. And then after your son is known as just Seamus (as a random example), you could convince your husband to go through with making the paperwork change.
Getting a name that flows well before Donovan is a challenge, and maybe you already have a meaningful middle name. But in the case of an existing middle name you don’t want to drop, perhaps giving your son Donovan as an extra middle name would be a necessary compromise.
You could also say Donovan first with the new name second for flow. This would still give you the option to drop Donovan later. For example, Wallis Simpson was named Bessie Wallis, and was called Bessie Wallis as a kid, but dropped Bessie as an adult. But I would try to relegate Donovan to the second name if you can swing it.
Maybe some of these combos would appeal to you and your husband. Some of these ideas I got by entering “Donovan” or “Declan” at numbler.com. I don’t know what names your husband has vetoed.
Benjamin Donovan / Donovan Benjamin – you could use Ben Donovan, but then that sort of sounds like “bend over” or “Ben Dover”, a joke from “The Simpsons.”
Clancy Donovan / Donovan Clancy
Colin Donovan / Donovan Colin
Conroy Donovan / Donovan Conroy
Cormac Donovan / Donovan Cormac
Darby Donovan / Donovan Darby – If you like alliteration. Declan and Darby is an example of a set that shares initials but doesn’t share the N-ending, making it a little less matchy.
Flynn Donovan / Donovan Flynn
Keane Donovan / Donovan Keane
Killian Donovan / Donovan Killian
Kieran Donovan / Donovan Kieran
Liam Donovan / Donovan Liam
Malachy Donovan / Donovan Malachy
Murphy Donovan / Donovan Murphy
Noah Donovan / Donovan Noah
Owen Donovan / Donovan Owen
Rourke Donovan / Donovan Rourke
Riley Donovan / Donovan Riley
Riordan Donovan / Donovan Riordan – came up for both Donovan and Declan, but I am uncertain of pronunciation.
Shea Donovan / Donovan Shea
Tierney Donovan / Donovan Tierney
Nymbler has some great ideas, and I could go on, but wanted to keep the list manageable.
And while this may be little consolation now, perhaps you can take some comfort in knowing that when your sons grow up, they will not be known as a pair, and will be distinct individuals, with separate friends who may not even give a second thought to their matchy names.
Readers: Do you have any suggestions for D?